OH MY GAWD I am sorry for not being able to post any on my stories on ff net. I have been super busy, and my life has been one roller coaster after another. Thank you so much for all of your support, reviews and comments. Please keep them coming, for they inspire me to keep going. I hope to work on this more and hopefully have more updates on a faster basis. Thanks for not giving up on me. I appreciate it. Anyways, here is a chap for you. I hope you like it :)
Chapter 24: Edoras
We managed to ride our mounts for two whole days, stopping only at night to rest ourselves. Locien stuck close to me, though he did join the others for a few minutes at a time, interested in Gimli's tales and Aragorn's soft countenance. It was hard to keep a smirk off of my face, and it felt so good to have my mate in our company once again. He made sure to give attention to the dark elves, though he tended to try and stay away from the youngest elleth, and I understood why.
Erulasse might be a very curious creature, and might not mean any harm to Locien, but her direct manner made him feel flustered, even moreso than usual. The dragonling didn't seem to know how to treat her, and after a few hours of trying in vain to figure her out, Locien huffed a sigh and wandered back over to where Gandalf sat, perhaps needing counsel.
Gimli caught my eye and smiled knowingly, "It's good to have the laddie back." Then he sobered as he looked at the dark elves suspiciously, "I am still not sure what to make of them."
Smiling at my friend, I offered, "They are here because they have a part to play in all of this. I know for a fact that Lady Galadriel and Lord Celeborn would not have sent Locien into Fangorn in their company if they deemed the dark elves as enemies."
"Nor would they have allowed such creatures to enter the wood of Lorien were they to be seen as threats." Aragorn added as he chewed on a long pipe.
Gimli grunted softly and opted to at least speak with Indilwen. Out of the dark elf family, Gimli seemed to harken more to the feisty, but motherly elleth most. I decided to go rub down Saeldur, since the horse looked a bit weathered due to the fierce riding and dust from travelling. The horse whickered softly in thanks as I rubbed a soft wetted cloth down his legs and back.
Locien finally wandered over to where I was and offered Saeldur a handful of grain. The horse munched it up and snorted his thanks, butting Locien's hand for more when the morsels were devoured. Locien snickered softly and rubbed Saeldur's muzzle before his eyes met mine. I straightened and for a long time we just stood and regarded each other carefully, as if truly seeing each other for the first time.
Locien had changed through the past month, most were good, but some were brought on by grief and despair. Saeldur snorted softly, making me whisper softly, "It's still hard to believe you are here."
Locien nodded in agreement, before he looked away, somewhat bashfully. I felt my teasing mood come up on me suddenly, but it faded when Locien looked into my eyes again, his blue eyes shadowed by pain. "I found out about Borimir from Lady Galadriel. There was a time, when I thought I'd never see you guys again, that if I did, you'd despise me for what I did."
Sighing softly, I opted to pull my mate into my arms. He trembled in my arms, and his face burrowed into my chest, and it was not a minute later that I could feel his silent sobs wrack his frame. Gimli and the others took notice, but they let me handle it. Aragorn sighed softly and poked the small fire we had built, knowing to be discrete when needed.
I rubbed my mate's back soothingly, whispering soft words of comfort, even though I knew from experience that nothing eased the pain besides time. Locien must have not been able to grieve for Borimir, and for the most part none of the fellowship that had known of his demise had been able to. I still felt sorrow for the fallen Gondorian, but I couldn't help but feel proud of him as well. Borimir had died bravely, and had regained his honor.
As for the other things that Locien had mentioned, I wasn't sure what to think of it all. How could Locien believe that I would despise him for going after Gandalf? Yes, I had been stunned, and hurt by it, but after thinking on everything rationally, I knew that Locien had felt that it had been the right choice to make. Everyone has reasons for what they do. Why should Locien be any different? Besides, Locien was here and now, and he had even promised me that he would never do such a thing again if he could help it. That was enough for me.
I gently soothed my mate for a time, and eventually Locien pulled himself together enough to look up into my eyes. Seeing his beautiful blue eyes rimmed with red from his sorrow and pain, I couldn't help but want to soothe all of those aches away. I cupped his face tenderly and murmured softly against his lips, "I could never despise you, Locien. You are my mate, and I love you… eternally."
Locien sniffed a bit and whispered, "I don't deserve you."
"Does anyone deserve who they love?" I asked with a small smirk, earning a soft laugh from Locien.
"No, I guess not." Locien admitted, and he nuzzled my hair a bit before he pulled away and pecked me on the lips.
When we both headed back over to our packs, I noticed that Aragorn had first watch, though Gandalf sat with him, giving him counsel while the others rested. I was content then to curl around Locien, and for once in a long time, I slept a full night of rest.
The next morn, we made ready to reach Edoras, and we rode our mounts hard to reach the great hall of the horse lords. We made quick time and did not stop, knowing that the meaning of haste was ever prevalent in our minds. Our company was lucky to avoid any foes during the day, and nearing late afternoon, we spotted Edoras.
The city was settled on a steep hill with wooden spiked wall borders to ensure the safety of its people. Gandalf murmured softly, "Do not expect a warm welcome here. Saruman's hold over King Theoden is now very strong."
Locien huffed a soft, tired sigh, and I tightened my hold on his waist, trying to convey my support. It seemed to work for a bit, for Locien reached down and squeezed my hand, as if to say that he was alright and would endure.
As we made our way up the winding hill, the people of the city looked upon us with wariness and mistrust. Indeed, Gandalf had been right about this place. Though before I could say anything, Gimli spoke for me, "You'd find more cheer in a graveyard."
Locien snorted in mirth, but continued to steer Saeldur in the right direction behind Gandalf and Aragorn. The dark elves brought up the rear, and though the adults didn't survey the human citizens of Edoras with further thought, Erulasse did perchance peer at them closely, as if curious about them as they were of us.
As we reached the Great Hall, we dismounted and handed our horses off to a stable hand nearby. Locien seemed a bit put out to see Saeldur go, but he turned his attention back to the grimness of Edoras. "These people look like they ate some pudding one night only to find it riddled with bugs." He whispered softly, and I nodded in agreement.
"The home of the horse lords is a rather rugged place. Its people live harsh lives." I added, and both of us quieted when Gandalf motioned us to go up the steps to enter the Great Hall.
When ordered to disarm, all of us felt a bit upset with having to part with our weapons. However, we handed them over as was asked. When they got to Locien, he made sure to have his fire sword covered in cloths along with his scythe and knives. His hand lingered over one dagger, the one that Borimir had stolen in Moria. Aragorn had given it back to him the night before when it was his time to have Locien take watch. Locien had thanked him, but had drawn quietly thoughtful as he held it in his hands last night.
Being near Locien, I was able to rest throughout the rest of the night with no night horrors or struggles.
Now, though, Locien gave his weapons away as if with no further thought. However, at least he ensured the safety of the Edoras guards by keeping the weapons in cloths. The guards took them without question, though one lad gave Locien a strange look before he left to put the weapons to the side of the hall to guard.
The dark elves gave up their weapons begrudgingly, though Indilwen wasn't too happy about relinquishing her long knives. Once we were done, we looked to the soldier Hama for instruction. He gestured to Gandalf, "Your staff."
Gandalf pouted slightly and plied with the soldier piteously, "You wouldn't part an old man from his walking stick?"
I caught Aragorn and Locien's eye and I shared slight smirks. The Maia was being true to form, being able to swing one over on the guards. However, as we walked in, I wondered if Hama was really loyal to Grima Wormtongue. It turns out, not many were.
When entering, Locien gaped at the horse sculptures, but his eyes narrowed at the guards posted at every corner of the Hall. King Theoden looked like an old man who had given up on living. If this indeed was work of powerful evil magic, then I wanted no part of it. Locien rubbed his chest, and I for once noticed that his protective talisman was now imbedded in his chest, the necklace completely gone. I said nothing though, knowing that Locien had his own scars to bear from his battles, just as all of us do, even if mine were more invisible to the naked eye.
I rubbed my chest idly as I waited and watched Gandalf work his magic on King Theoden. The man looked like he seriously had one too many brushes with death and forgot the fact that he was still in fact breathing. His hair was matted and dirty, falling around his face like some loathsome half assed attempt of a web from thousands of baby spiders. His face was worn and haggard, looking like leather stretched over brittle bones. Glazed old grey eyes stared out blankly, though they did sharpen slightly on Gandalf as the wizard advanced towards him. Great rich furs covered the king's shoulders and frame, though his crown looked a bit lopsided and dust covered. Cruel jagged yellowed nails adorned Theoden's weathered fingers, and he sat upon the throne as if he was part of it, not actually sitting on it.
Wow. If this was the work of Saruman, then I did have to give him pointers for making someone look utterly and totally depressing. Just saying. However, I couldn't help feeling the surge of anger and pity rise up in my chest as I continued to watch the depraved husk that the once prideful strong king had become.
I turned and wrinkled my nose at the thick smell of decay, pain, and suffering. The stench was almost overpowering, and it made me want to hurl into the nearest bucket. Either that or try to run for the nearest door. My eyes caught sight of a lurking greasy looking man, covered in black robes. I could feel the evil aura coming off of him in waves, centered around a thick silver talisman at his chest.
I blinked and though my first instinct was to recoil from such a piteous, evil looking human sorcerer, I held my ground. My feet were firmly placed on the ground, and I straightened my back, clenching my fists at my sides. I didn't have to look around to know that the rest of my company had done similar things. We were ready, just in case this confrontation turned into a brawling match of nasty unwashed bodies.
Ew. That is so disgusting to think about. Bad imagery too. Then again, envisioning one certain blonde elf naked was totally ok with me. But I pulled my thoughts out of that road, shoving my hussies out of the way as well. It seemed like now I was near Legolas, my inner hussies had come back yelling and screaming. Not that I could really blame them.
Gandalf paid the loathsome one no mind. Instead, he continued to advance until he was in the center of the court, noting in a pleasant, if not irritated voice, "The courtesy of your hall has somewhat lessened of late, Theoden King."
"Why should I welcome you? Gandalf Stormcrow?" King Theoden breathlessly wheezed out.
Oh god, that poor bastard needed help. I just hoped that Gandalf would be able to get Saruman's clutches out of him before it was too late. Trusting Gandalf, and keeping an eye on the burly thugs employed by Grima surrounding the hall, all of us waited and watched.
Suddenly the evil urchin type human came over to stand in between the king and Gandalf. I blinked at the stunning stupidity of that act. As Grima started spouting off empty threats I couldn't help but smirk and roll my eyes. I caught Legolas' eye and he shared an amused look with me. Seriously, how could anyone who knew OF Gandalf be so utterly idiotic? Well, this would be entertaining to watch, for sure. Gandalf would enjoy putting the urchin in his place, indeed just as much as we would enjoy viewing the spectacle, I am sure.
"A just question, my liege." Grima stated in false honesty. Seriously was this loathsome maggot for real? "Late is the hour in which this conjuror chooses to appear."
As he spouted more nonsense, Gandalf scowled and had about enough. He cut off Grima sharply, stating with enough bite in his voice to make any dragon applaud his tenacity, "Be silent, keep your forked tongue behind your teeth. I have not crossed through fire and death to banter quarried words with witless worms."
And with that, pulled up his staff to the dismay of Grima. The urchin snarled in fear and anger, "The staff! I told you to take the wizard's staff!"
Spotting some of the thugs advancing from the sides, I went into motion, neatly slugging a few before wrestling them to the ground. I then snapped back up and threw my arm back, managing to knock another dude out that was unseen. I blinked over to watch my companions easily dispose of their foes accordingly and easily. Seriously?
I was kind of disappointed that the pinheads didn't have more fight in them.
Oh well, there were bound to be more obstacles and fair and unfair fights all around for sharing eventually. I sighed softly and absently kicked a body at my feat just for spite. Erulasse snorted, but otherwise stayed quiet as Gandalf made his way with a clear path towards Theoden, saying in a clear and powerful voice, "Theoden," he raised a hand so that the king would pay attention to him, "son of Thengel, too long have you sat in the shadows."
Gimli spotted Grima and put a heavy boot on the worm's nappy chest, growling vehemently, warning, "I would stay put if I were you."
I felt like applauding Gimli, but then was too distracted by a flow of white coming from near Aragorn. I went to help, but Legolas took hold of my arm. I blinked at my mate, confused. He nodded in the direction of the ranger and took a look. Apparently the flash of white was in fact a beautifully white dress clad human woman with a rich circlet around her brow. Oh. This must be a princess or lady of the court. That would explain the look she was giving the king.
Full of worry and maybe a bit of fear.
Aragorn whispered softly to her as he detained her arm, "Wait."
The woman blinked and took notice of the ranger with shocked eyes.
My attention turned to Gandalf, who was trying to get Saruman to loosen his hold on King Theoden. I didn't look like it was going well at first, but then Gandalf seemed to lose his patience, flinging back his cloak to reveal his white robes and practically roared, severing the noxious holding spell. Theoden moaned and nearly collapsed to the floor. The woman being held by Aragorn managed to free herself and hurried over to his side.
It was amazing, seeing Theoden's age and weathering fade away, revealing the strong king he must have been before Saruman poisoned his mind. His eyes grew to be a clear blue, and his body's skin turned back to normal. It all happened in such a short amount of time. To see the evil melt away so fast, it was almost badass.
The king turned to view the woman next to him, who was now smiling, and he whispered, "I know your face…. Eowyn."
So she was the princess of the court.
Legolas stood by me as we watched King Theoden regain his marbles and his strength, grasping his sword. And apparently, his vengeance.
Grima was thrown out of the hall, and as the toad fell down the stairs, I didn't even have the heart to wince in sympathy. He was bleeding by the time he came to a stop, pleading with the king to have a heart, but Theoden was not to be appeased. As he went to strike down the urchin who had spelled him under Saruman's control, Aragorn did a class act and took hold of his arm, asking for him to have mercy.
Bah, if Grima had done what he did to Theoden at my father's court, he would have been burned alive, make no mistake about that. It goes to show how much compassion Aragorn had. Perhaps that was why he was deemed to rise up and unite all of the humans to become his birthright as king of Gondor.
But then the asshole spat on Aragorn's offered hand. I growled lowly, showing fangs as I went to go teach that bastard a lesson. Aragorn went to stop me, but Legolas told him with a soft, but pointed voice, "Don't. I don't think Locien intends to kill him."
I went after him all right, easily catching up to him at the stables. Grima let out a squeal of terror as he spotted me, all fanged out and angry coming after him. "What are you?! Leave me be!"
Feeling fury build in my veins, I harnessed it. I knew I wouldn't be able to harm the prick that much, even if I had leave to. I just had seen too much of bloodshed already, and I had a feeling there would be more to come soon. Reaching out, I snatched up the now sobbing meaningless pit of a man and roared, nearly scaring the whole stable full of horses in the process.
Grima shivered and I could smell the wet stench of urine. Feeling disgusted, I bit out, "if you ever cause harm to anyone ever again and I find out about it, you will wish you were in hell. Do you understand me?"
"Yes!" Grima cried out.
"Good." I then got an idea. Probably a foolish one, but one nonetheless. "Then listen to me very closely. The only way you will be able to redeem yourself for what you have done is this. Go back to Saruman, act the puppet if you wish and tell him what you wish, I don't fucking care. I know you probably have an oath you must fulfill with him. However, once the most opportune moment comes, deceive him long enough that we will be able to defeat him."
"I cannot! He will kill me! You will send me to my death!" Grima sniveled in protest.
"Then so be it. In my home town you would have been put on a spit and barbecued from the inside out." I told him, growling lowly.
I could feel the fury start to ebb somewhat, so when Grima asked the most obvious question, "Then why care about me and what I do?! Why not just kill me now?" I didn't mind truly taking the time to think about a good answer.
I whispered threateningly, "Because it only takes an ant to get under an Elephante's skin. You may be a stupid ant, but I have seen spiders be taken down by smaller things. Do your part and you will be redeemed."
"And if I don't?" Grima asked.
"Then I will come for you. And no matter how many ways of death you will be able to think up in that puny skull of yours my curses on your flea bitten hide will be a thousand times worse. You understand?" I growled lowly, licking my lips as I spoke, allowing my eyes to glitter dangerously.
I knew I was playing a dangerous game. Grima might go back to Saruman and tell him what had happened, every part of it. And Saruman was a cunning enough wizard to probably figure out my lineage. If that happened, then it wouldn't be long before Sauron found out. But, at this point, I figured that there was nothing much I could do at this point. If there was any goodness left inside of Grima, he wouldn't betray us. But at the same time I wasn't counting on it. So, I told him a lie, but somewhat part of the truth, "And if you must know what I am, I am a half blood dark elf with a touch of wraith."
Grima's eyes got big. It would have been quite amusing if I wasn't so caught up in details of my lie. "Exactly."
"One of the nine… is your sire? How is that possible?" Grima gaped in horror.
I leveled him with a glower and the man trembled even more in fear. I let go of him and left the stables, stopping just outside to let go of my anger and to get a handle over my emotions. My ears drooped slightly at the thought of telling such a lie, but it had to be done. I had to protect the remainder of the fellowship for as long as possible. I just hoped that the others would understand what I did if they ever found out.
I heard the urchin ride out hard on his horse and I breathed a sigh of relief. I knew Saruman and Sauron were smart and cunning adversaries. They might be fooled for a while, but they would eventually figure out my lineage, even if Grima never told them about my lie. I had only bought us some time.
As I calmed, I thought of Legolas, and wondered just how fucked our lives were. I had a feeling that our lives would be even more fucked up before anything got any better, if at all.